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Including ...

  • Chaise Driver - drove a chaise - a two-wheeled open horse-drawn carriage for one or two persons
  • Flydriver

This is a universal project. Please add GENi profiles who were Coachmen to this project, whether "domestic" or other.

A coachman was a man whose business it was to drive a coach, a horse-drawn vehicle designed for the conveyance of more than one passenger — and of mail — and covered for protection from the elements. With the arrival of motor vehicles the coachman was replaced by a chauffeur. A coachman could be either Domestic or employed by a coach establishment.

A domestic coachman was usually employed by a gentry family, who had their own stables or a mews where the coachman and family would live above accommodation for carriages and horses. He would drive the family horse drawn vehicles, including a covered carriage, a barouche, a dog cart, taking the family on shorter journeys, visiting friends or to the station.

In a great house, this would have been a specialty, but in more modest households, the coachman would have doubled as the stablehand or groom.

A good coachman would be sought after for his knowledge of coach maintenance combined with a general equestrian understanding.

Also known as

  • coach driver
  • coachee
  • coachy
  • groom coachmen
  • whip

Other similar or related occupations

  • Carman
  • Carter
  • Chaisemaker - carriage or cart maker
  • Coach Builder
  • Coach Body builder
  • Coach maker
  • Coach trimmer who finished of the building of a coach with painting, upholstery etc.
  • Drayman - usually employed by companies such as brewers, coal merchants

Mail Coach

The first mail coach in Britain ran from Bristol to London in 1784 as a result of John Palmer's initiative to carry mail be in special coaches with good horses, armed guards, and no outside passengers. The success of the service led to services to 16 other towns being set up, including Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Norwich, Dover, Portsmouth, Hereford, Swansea and Holyhead. Edinburgh was added in 1786. By 1797 there were forty-two routes in operation.

Hackney Carriages or Coaches ...

... first appeared in London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The wealthy coach owners coaches hired them out to less well-heeled members of the gentry. As the coaches aged and were replaced, they were bought by innkeepers and merchants and hired out.

The first man who organised hackney coaches and coachmen was Captain John Baily, a veteran of Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions, who put four coaches to work by the Maypole in the Strand in 1634, and set up what was London’s first cab rank. He dressed his coachman in livery and told them what to charge. Many followed Baily’s example because by the 1760s there were over a thousand ‘hackney hell carts’ thronging the streets, causing considerable congestion.

In 1823 a two-seat, two-wheeled carriage called a cabriolet was introduced from France and became popular for its speed and comfort, leading to the term ‘cab’. From the late 1830s, two types of cab began to dominate, the two-wheeled hansom, a fast and elegant carriage and the ponderous four-wheeled ‘growler’ which, with its luggage carrying ability was to be found mostly at railway stations.

References, Sources and further reading

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